By Junno Arocho Esteves
In a video message to young men and women around the world, Pope Francis called on them to provoke an uprising of change by serving others.
In helping those who are suffering, both young believers and non-believers can find “a strength that can change the world”, the Holy Father said in a video message to youth for the upcoming World Youth Day in Panama.
“It is a revolution that can overturn the powerful forces at work in our world. It is the ‘revolution’ of service,” he said in the message released by the Vatican on 21 November.
The theme for the World Youth Day celebrations, which will take place from 22 to 27 January, is taken from the Gospel of St Luke, “May it be done to me according to your word”.
In his message, Pope Francis said those words uttered by Mary during the Annunciation are “the positive reply of one who understands the secret of vocation: to go beyond oneself and place oneself at the service of others”.
Life, he said, can only find meaning when serving God and others. Like Mary, young people must engage “in conversation with God with an attitude of listening” so that they may discover their calling either in marriage, consecrated life or the priesthood.
“The important thing is to discover what God wants from us and to be brave enough to say ‘yes,'” the Supreme Pontiff said.
“When God has a proposition for us, like the one he had for Mary, it is not intended to extinguish our dreams, but to ignite our aspirations.”
Pope Francis encouraged young people to say “yes” to God’s calling, which is “the first step toward being happy and toward making many people happy”.
“Dear young people,” Pope Francis said, “take courage, enter within yourselves and ask God: ‘What do you want from me?’ Allow God to answer you. Then you will see how your life is transformed and filled with joy.”
When Pope Francis visits Panama for World Youth Day in January, he will meet with young people not able to attend the festivities: some in jail and with some living with HIV.
He also will dedicate the altar of Panama’s newly renovated 400-year-old cathedral, meet with bishops from Central America and have lunch with some of the young people attending the youth day gathering, according to the schedule released by the Vatican on 20 November.
The Pope’s visit to Panama will be his 26th trip outside of Italy.
During his visit, he will deliver seven speeches and celebrate two Masses as well as a penitential liturgy.
The Pope’s meeting with young people who will be unable to take part in the activities is a response to the Gospel’s call to clothe the naked, visit the sick and comfort the imprisoned, the organising committee said in a 20 November statement.
Archbishop Jose Domingo Ulloa Mendieta of Panama said Pope Francis’ meeting with young detainees will be “a very special event” in which “young people deprived of freedom will take part in a penitential liturgy with the Holy Father in an act of repentance, reconciliation and forgiveness”, the committee said.
After the closing Mass for World Youth Day, Pope Francis will visit Casa Hogar el Buen Samaritano (Good Samaritan Home), a centre dedicated to helping HIV and AIDS patients “regardless of their sex, religion, sexual orientation, geographical origin” and “who lack the resources to live and cope with their illness”.
The Holy Father will also pray the Angelus there with young people from the Malambo hospice, which helps people addicted to drugs and alcohol, and from Hogar San Jose, a house for the poor run by the Missionaries of Charity and the Kkottongnae religious congregation.
Here is the detailed schedule released by the Vatican. All times are local, with Eastern Daylight Time in parentheses:
Wednesday, 23 January (Rome, Panama)
- 35am (3.35am) – Departure from Rome’s Fiumicino Airport.
- 30pm – Arrival at Tocumen International Airport in Panama.
- 50pm – Transfer to the apostolic nunciature.
Thursday, 24 January (Panama)
- 45am – Welcoming ceremony at Palacio de las Garzas presidential palace.
- 10am – Courtesy visit with Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela at Palacio de las Garzas.
- 40am – Meeting with government authorities and the diplomatic corps at Bolivar Palace. Speech by Pope.
- 15am – Meeting with Central American bishops in the Church of St Francis of Assisi. Speech by Pope.
- 30pm – Welcoming ceremony and gathering with young people in Santa Maria la Antigua Field. Speech by Pope.
Friday, 25 January (Panama)
- 30am – Penitential liturgy with juvenile delinquents in Las Garzas de Pacora Juvenile Detention Centre in Pacora. Homily by Pope.
- 50am – Transfer by helicopter to the apostolic nunciature.
- 30pm – Way of the Cross with young people in Santa Maria la Antigua Field. Speech by Pope.
Saturday, 26 January (Panama)
- 15am – Mass and dedication of the altar of the Cathedral Basilica of Santa Maria la Antigua with priests, men and women religious and lay movements. Homily by Pope.
- 15pm – Lunch with young people at San Jose Major Seminary.
- 30pm – Prayer vigil with young people at St John Paul II Field. Speech by Pope.
Sunday, 27 January (Panama)
- 8am – Mass at St John Paul II Field to mark World Youth Day. Homily by Pope.
- 45am – Visit to Casa Hogar el Buen Samaritano (Good Samaritan Home). Speech and Angelus by Pope.
- 30pm – Meeting with World Youth Day volunteers, the local organising committee and benefactors at Rommel Fernandez Stadium. Speech by Pope.
- 6pm – Farewell ceremony at Tocumen International Airport.
- 15pm – Departure from Tocumen International Airport.
Monday, 28 January (Rome)
- 50am (5.50am) – Arrival at Rome’s Ciampino Airport.